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FOR MY LOVER IN DEFENSE OF MY WHORISHNESS/Löwra Henrikson But don't you see my poor darling, that loyalty is a silly virtue in the pass we are in? . . . Woe betide whoeverfalls into my clutches. —Manon Lescaut How jejune the thick stalks of your love. How tender the blossoms. My fingers are whorled with gold rings spun by other men, and I can't begin counting on both hands the times I've torn your roots up and replanted you. You're getting weak. Cold and pasty. Don't droop into my lap again, fraU man. Don't listen when I say I love you. I love you. Because you're the bulb who spawned my garden. Because I'm the fat bumblebee sucking nectar off every flower but you. And please, call me a whore. I buzz when I'm called a whore. I lick it up. See, here's where you went wrong. You've been too easy for too long. A woman doesn't like that. In sex you wilt in the heat of my sun and I could simply grind you up in my tea bag, serve you honeyed to a new man. The Missouri Review · 62 CaU me vain. I am. I'm bored vain. Understand, then, when I tell you I take money for sex and it's not like you thought. I don't simply rob men and leave. I take money for sex. Listen, understand this: The part I like is the leaving. The rest I deign to do: I lend them my body, my own private flower, my scent sticking to sheets, fingers, noses. But there's something about leaving, about prowler and prey and that one fluted moment a man arches his back to the moon, screams above my body that he'U do anything, anything, for my petals sucking around his skin. It's the utter consumption of it all, the final collapse when he drapes his sticky leaves over my chest and I say, Tulip, I'm desperate, I need a sprinkle of money, some diamonds to kiss my ears, and he obeys, Anything, anything, and fiUs my purse, decorates my body until I glisten. So you see, it's not the sex, not the womanly need to love and be loved, but the gimlet thriU of flying from their bedroom windows and leaving them.standing, trousers pooled at their ankles, erections sturdy beneath the bulbs of their beUies, as desperate, as scissUe, as you, now, stiff as a dead thing on my shovel, waiting for me to say I'll be faithful, which I won't. Laura Henrteon The Missouri Review . 63 THANATOS/Lflura Henrikson Carved on a fallen oak log swell the words Devour me. A storm cloud spits blues into my knotted hair, my eyelashes. Rain pools in the grooves of each letter: Devour me. Leaves sag on frail branches and I, too, want to submit my Umbs to this punishment. I want to peel my skin from my body, splay my rawness atop this log, let the rain dissolve me, the thunder crack up my spine. 64 · The Missouri Review EROS/Laura Henrfaon Pure splendor, too, dulls after so many seasons. From the porch step we watch the sun sip purples off the horizon, so that tomorrow it can spit back reds and thick chains of cobalt clouds. You're still angry. You shake my hand off yours. The skin on our fingers hangs looser than yesterday. We've recently married, are recently young and brilliant in our yellows. The Missouri Review . 65 WHILE YOU WORK UNDER FLORESCENT/ Jjaura Henrikson While night crickets still crick, whUe cicadas begin another blurry day crashing against the house, I yawn over the porch raU and shake pebbles off the rag mat. It's not quite morning. You've left your coffee to thicken in its mug. When the air is cool with sunrise I sit on the porch and read poetry that shudders through me. It never lasts. As the first clouds erupt I arch my neck and almost die again. My heart skips beats. My body teases me like that, lets me come so...


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